Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hamburger Casserole (like Shepard's Pie)


My family loves Shepard's Pie, and we have served it many times through the years for a quick weeknight supper.  This one kicks it up a bit with French Fried onions and 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese!  Yummm!!


1.5 lbs ground beef
Mashed potatoes (you'll need a good amount to cover casserole)
2 cups corn (canned, fresh or frozen)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 tbls. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 can Durkee French Fried onions
2 cups 4-cheese Mexican Blend

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. 

In a large skillet, brown ground beef and drain grease. In a large bowl, mix ground beef with cream of mushroom soup and Worcestershire sauce.

Place ground beef mixture in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; season with salt and pepper to taste.Top beef mixture with 1/2 can French Fried onions and sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese on top of onions.Top with corn, then top corn layer with mashed potatoes, spreading mashed potatoes over entire top of casserole. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheese over top of mashed potatoes. 

Bake in oven 35-45 minutes or until bubbly.  Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining French Fried onions on top of casserole and continue baking 5-10 more minutes or until onions are browned. 

Let sit 10-15 minutes before serving.


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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Smoked Sausage and Shrimp over Pasta


I really love Shrimp Creole, Cajun Shrimp and Sausage and other dishes, but the hubs does not, so this Smoked Sausage and Shrimp over Pasta was formulated with an "Italian" flair to satisfy both of us.  It's a super-easy, quick weeknight meal, but fancy enough for company. You can use any pasta you like; bow tie, penne, angel hair, fettuccini, linguine, whatever suits your taste.  Serve with some garlic bread and a side garden salad.

1- 12 oz package. Smoked Sausage
8 ounces uncooked pasta (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp. garlic, minced (I minced garlic in a jar)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small onion, diced
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
½ cup (2 ounces) shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp Oregano
Salt to taste
options: Add chopped zucchini or yellow squash and sliced mushrooms

Cut sausage into slices; set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and keep warm tossed with a little olive oil to keep pasta from sticking. 

Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat; stir in smoked sausage and cook 3-4 minutes or until sausage is brown; toss in shrimp and cook until just pink; remove from skillet and set aside.

In the same skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add celery, onion and black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until vegetables are sauteed', about 4 minutes.

Add cooked pasta, drained tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, oregano and sausage/shrimp mixture. Stir gently to combine over medium heat until hot; add salt to taste. Serve immediately.


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Apple Butter Cake


Ooooo laaaa laaaaaa!  Apple Butter Cake with homemade Apple Butter is so moist, tender and delicious!  Chock full of apple butter, raisins and pecans, it makes a wonderful snack cake for after-school or anytime. 


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup apple butter (easy to make crock pot recipe)
1 1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup dark seedless raisins (or golden raisins or craisins)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (could also use walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Measure all ingredients into a large mixing bowl, except raisins and nuts.

With mixer at low speed, beat until well-mixed, scraping bowl with spatula. Beat at high speed for 3 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl. Stir in raisins and nuts. Pour batter into pan. 

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool cake in pan or on wire rack.

Note: Can also be baked in 2 loaf pans if preferred

4 tbls. butter
4 tbls. cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbls milk
2 cups confectioner's sugar
Beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla until creamy. Slowly beat in 3 tbls milk until smooth and creamy. Add confectioner's sugar and beat on high speed until smooth. Spread frosting on cake.  Makes enough frosting for a 13 x 9-inch cake.  Double recipe if more frosting is desired.


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Monday, February 18, 2013

Super-Cheesy Mac and Cheese


My family loves homemade baked macaroni and cheese. Although I have a recipe I've been using for years, recently while at our son's family over the Christmas holidays, we were served a "new to me" kind that was amazing!

Super cheesy, kid-friendly, fantastic baked macaroni and cheese.  I've adapted the recipe here to share.  The original recipe called for a "smoked cheddar," which none of us cared for, so I added a 4-cheese Mexican Blend in addition to the shredded Cheddar, Colby and Velveeta.  Original recipe adapted from Divas Can Cook.

3 cups macaroni, uncooked
2 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
Lawry’s seasoned salt and pepper, to taste 
paprika (optional
16 oz. Velveeta, cubed
2 cups sharp cheddar (can use less if you don’t like a sharp taste in your mac n cheese)
1 cup Colby cheese, shredded
1 cup 4-cheese Mexican blend, shredded

Preheat oven to 350
Cook macaroni until al' dente. (Look on the back of the box to see how long you need to cook your pasta for it to reach al' dente texture). Do not overcook. When pasta is done, drain and set aside. 

In a large bowl, add milk, heavy cream and cheeses. Stir to combine. Taste the milk mixture and add seasoned salt and pepper until it has a good taste. When you are happy with the taste, add in the eggs. Stir well until combined. 

Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray, and pour macaroni in. Pour cheese mixture over macaroni.  Sprinkle with paprika and/or black pepper, if desired.  

Bake for 35-45 minutes. Do not over-bake. It may be a bit jiggly when you take it out of the oven. It will firm up as it cools. Let cool for about 10-20 minutes to fully set.

*Option - Add cooked and crumbled BACON and top with bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan Cheese ... serve in individual ramekins for a different twist!  Soooooo good!!!


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pizza at Home


I love pizza, but my husband never did until he ate this pizza! Now he loves it and we enjoy it fairly often.

I love pizza, any kind of  pizza! Fully loaded, pepperoni, sausage, olives, cheese with more cheese, you name it, I like it.

My grandsons also love pizza, so I came up with this way to make great Pizza at Home. Each recipe yields enough dough for 3 personal pan pizzas (recipe is easily doubled) so everyone can mix up their own and top it the way they like it, or 1 large family-style pizza. Perfect for a small family, or for a kids party/sleepover.

2 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water, 95 to 110 degrees (lukewarm, baby bottle warm)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2-1/2 cups bread flour, approx.
(recipe can be easily doubled)

In medium bowl, stir in yeast, water, sugar, salt, and oil. Mix in enough flour to make a dough that can be kneaded.

Turn dough out onto board and quickly knead for 3 minutes, adding more flour if dough is too sticky to knead.

Place dough in greased bowl and flip dough over in bowl so that dough top is also lightly greased. Cover and let rise into warm, draft-free place until doubled into size, or about 30-45 minutes.

Punch dough down and divide dough into 3 equal parts (the dough should be very stretchy and easy to work with).

To make a personal pizza, grease pizza pan or baking sheet with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal (I used a 6 1/2-inch round cast iron skillet).

Press one dough part into your greased pan, pressing down bottom and working up the side of the pan a bit with your fingers.

Put on sauce and desired toppings. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Bake pizza on the bottom rack for about 15-20 minutes, or until pizza edges are lightly golden and cheese is melted.

You can bake all 3 personal pizzas or place the other 2 dough parts in a plastic food storage bag and refrigerate or freeze for later use.

Or make 2 larger pizza's by simply dividing the dough in half.

Pizza Sauce
1 clove garlic, mashed and minced (or garlic powder or dried minced garlic)
1 teaspoon salt
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
dash red pepper, optional

Pizza Sauce for Canning here

Combine all ingredients. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.  Store any leftover sauce in the refrigerator, or freeze for use another time.

Option - don't use sauce at all, but brush pizza dough with olive oil and top with petite cut canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes, fresh chopped basil and mozzarella cheese!

*Cook's Note -  If using a pizza stone, preheat the stone in the oven for at least 30 minutes (up to one hour) before placing your pizza on the stone on the bottom rack.

*Grandmother's Pizza - "Grandmother's" Pizza is the name given to a large sheet pizza, such as this one. In this case the pizza dough (entire dough recipe above) after it has risen, is stretched out (patted out) on a large baking sheet (17 x 11) that has been oiled with olive oil. 

Press dough out as far as you can (it won't fill the whole baking sheet just yet) and let it sit about 30 minutes, then press out more until dough fills entire baking sheet. 

Top with sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings and bake in 450 oven approx. 20 minutes. 

Remove from baking sheet onto cutting board and enjoy!

Also seen on Meal Plan Monday


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Italian Cream Cake


Love, love, love this cake!  It's makes an awesome presentation as a 3-layer delight, but it's just as tasty as a 13 x 9 sheet cake.  No matter how you bake it, it's a hit every time I serve it.  Used to be I made this cake all the time, and we couldn't keep it in the house.  Now, with just the hubs and me at home, it's easier to make as a sheet cake, then he can easily bring some to share with his staff.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup oil
5 eggs, separated
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk (make your own by adding 1 tbls. lemon juice or vinegar to the milk)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup flaked coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream sugar, shortening and oil. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir baking soda into buttermilk; add alternately with flour to batter. Mix until well beaten. Fold in coconut.

Beat egg whites and fold into mixture; add vanilla.

Pour into 3 greased and floured 9-inch pans or one 13 x 9-inch pan.

Bake layers in 350 oven 25 minutes; bake sheet cake 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

Cool cake layers before frosting.

One 8-oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
One 1-pound box confectioners sugar
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 tsp. vanilla extract
May need to add 1 Tbls milk for desired consistency

Cream cheese and butter; gradually beat in sugar.  Add pecans and flavorings.  This makes a lot of frosting.  Cut recipe in 1/2 for sheet cake.


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Friday, February 15, 2013

Creamy Chicken & Broccoli over Baked Potatoes


One of the first posts I ever made was this Creamy Chicken and Broccoli over Baked Potatoes. So good any time of year, and a super-easy and quick weeknight meal. Prebake the potatoes to make this meal even faster.

2 tablespoons butter
1½ boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into ½-inch pieces
½ cup chopped green onion
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 - 14.5 oz. can chicken broth (or make your own)
1 large head fresh broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, Parmesan, or any cheese you like
4 baking potatoes, baked and split open

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add chicken and green onions; cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Add flour, salt, and pepper; cook stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add broth; cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until thickened. Add broccoli and cheese last, stirring until cheese melts.

Serve over baked potatoes.

Yield:  4 full servings or 8 half servings


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Monday, February 11, 2013

Cheddar Broccoli Cheese Chowder


Changing up my Cheddar Broccoli Cheese Soup into a Cheddar Broccoli Cheese Chowder!  I love my cheddar broccoli cheese soup, but this chowder has more substance, is richer, smoother, and so delicious, plus it's completely meatless for those of you looking for a satisfying, meatless meal.  PS - the hubs loved it.


2 stalks celery, sliced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 stick of butter
1/3-1/2 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock or chicken broth
2 cups 1/2 and 1/2 cream
Black pepper to taste
4 large slices processed cheese food (I use Velveeta)
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes (fresh or frozen)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 small to medium heads fresh broccoli, cut into florets

Melt butter in large sauce pan over med-high heat, saute' celery and onion approx. 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are getting soft.

Add flour and stir until vegetables are covered with flour.  Reduce heat to med-low and slowly add chicken stock and 1/2 and 1/2, stirring constantly to prevent lumps (can use whisk), until well blended.

Stir in black pepper to taste.

Stir in Velveeta cheese and continue stirring until melted and blended in.

Add carrots and cover partially with lid; simmer 10 minutes or until carrots are cooked through.  Add potatoes and shredded cheddar cheese; simmer covered 10 minutes.

Add broccoli and continue to cook until broccoli is just al dente'.  If chowder is too thick, add more 1/2 and 1/2 or a bit more chicken stock, until desired consistency.


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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cinnamon-Sugar Topped Blueberry Muffins

I just used up the last of my fresh blueberries I bought at Willard Farms this past Spring, and had them tucked away in my freezer.  Over the winter months they have made many lovely goodies, from muffins, to pancakes,  to canned pie filling and more.  Kinda' sad to see the last of them go, but in just a few short months, I'll be able to get some more fresh to freeze and use all over again in some yummy goodness.

Cinnamon-Sugar Topped Blueberry Muffins

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I use fresh I froze myself)
Cinnamon-sugar (mix 3 tsp. granulated sugar with 1/2-1 tsp ground cinnamon)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease muffins tins (12 or 8 size).  Beat egg; stir in milk and oil.  Mix in remaining ingredients, except blueberries and cinnamon-sugar, just until flour is moistened and everything is well incorporated.  Batter will be lumpy.  Add blueberries and carefully stir until combined.  Fill muffins cups 2/3 full and sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Immediately remove from pan.

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Homemade Breakfast Sausage Patties


Ground fresh pork from Middle Sparrow Ranch seasoned for breakfast sausage

A few years ago, I made my first homemade sausage patties. They're easy to do and taste great! Do not use meat that is very lean, or they'll be dry ... you need some of the fat with it to make them nice, plump and juicy. Of course, pork from a local farm is always best. Mix and change up the spices any way you want to make it your own. Original recipe adapted from Cook's Country.

Yummy Breakfast Sausage Patties

Sausage and Cheese Biscuit


2 pounds ground pork
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tbls. table salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Spread the pork out in a large bowl and sprinkle with the maple syrup, garlic, salt, pepper, sage, thyme, and cayenne.

Using your hands, gently fold the flavorings evenly into the pork, then portion and shape into sixteen 2-ounce patties (about 1/4 cup each). I use a round biscuit cutter placing each portion of pork into the cutter, and pressing the meat down to fit the cutter using my fingers. This helps keep the patties an even size and thickness.

Liberally spay a fry pan with cooking spray, or use 2 tbls. oil and heat until bubbling.

Add the patties and cook until well browned on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. 

Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. 

Patties can be shaped, wrapped and frozen for use another time.

Yield: 16 two-ounce patties.


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Friday, February 8, 2013

Mexicali Chicken and Vegetable Soup

I've made lots of chicken soup. Chicken and Rice, Chicken Noodle, Chicken and Vegetables, Italian-Style Chicken Soup and others.  So then I thought, why not Mexicali type Chicken and Vegetable Soup?  You know, a good chicken stock base, with some Mexican spices such as Chili Powder added?  I know I'm not the first to try this, and definitely won't be the last, but I set out on that adventure not sure exactly what I'd come up with, anticipating the end result would be good ... or at least that was my hope.  I was not disappointed!

Homemade Chicken Stock (you can also use leftover chicken pieces (thighs, legs, wings) from a roast chicken to make the stock) You'll need about 2 quarts
2 cups reserved, cooked chicken meat from stock (or 2 cups cooked and chopped chicken meat)
1-2 tbls. chili powder (to taste)
2 tsp. course-ground black pepper (to taste)
2 tsp. sea salt
1 - 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (undrained)
2 cups frozen cubed potatoes (or fresh Red or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed)
1 cup frozen niblet corn
1 cup frozen green beans
4-6 Jalapeno pepper slices (if desired)
Options:  add black beans, pinto beans or kidney beans 
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large stock pot.  Reduce heat, cover partially with lid and simmer 30 minutes, or until all vegetables are heated through.  Serve immediately.
Notes - serve topped with toasted corn tortilla strips, shredded Mexican or Cheddar cheese, some fresh Cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream.
Bring soup to a boil, but do not simmer.  Immediately ladle soup into hot, sterilized canning jars, evenly distributing the soup leaving 1/4" head space. Seal with lids and process in pressure canner 90 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure. Remove canner from heat and allow pressure to come down on its own. Remove jars and let sit on a kitchen towel on your countertop 24 hours undisturbed.  Jars are sealed when button in the middle of the lid is fully depressed. 
Yield: 4.5 quart jars

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sweet & Sour Sauce Pork Tenderloin with a side of Mushroom Chop Suey

I just love the simplicity of this recipe!  It's very quick to put together, and even easier to cook.  That's what it's all about some nights ... simple, quick and easy!

1 small pork tenderloin
Sweet and Sour Sauce
8 Tbls kethcup
6 Tbls vinegar
5 Tbls sugar
2 Tbls cornstarch
3 Tbls oil
1 1/3 cups Water
1 small can diced pineapple
Diced bell pepper (optional)

Mix the Sweet and Sour Sauce together in a small sauce pan  and heat over med-high heat until bubbly and thickened. Reduce heat and let simmer.

Bake the pork tenderloin, with some Sweet and Sour Sauce ladled over top, approx. one hour in a 350 oven.  Serve pork over white rice with some additional Sweet and Sour Sauce ladled over top.  Add Mushroom Chop Suey as a side ... delicious!

Mushroom Chop Suey compliments of The Black Peppercorn


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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fried Hot Wings


I've been trying for years to make these right!  Not coating, coating, deep-fried, not deep-fried, baked, etc.  Tonight I finally got it right!  Coating, deep fried, then soaked in sauce!  Enjoy :-)

1 package fresh chicken wings, tips removed and drummettes cut from wing
1 cup self-rising flour
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp course-ground black pepper
Texas Pete Buffalo Wing Sauce

Place all wing pieces in a large zip-loc bag and soak in hot sauce.

Add self-rising flour, garlic powder and course-ground black pepper to another gallon zip-loc bag. 

Add soaked wings to flour mixture and shake to coat.

Allow to dry on a cooling rack with paper towels underneath, for at least one hour at room temperature.

Place wings, 6-8 at a time, in a deep fryer with the oil at 375-400 degrees ( I use peanut oil). 

Cook until meat is cooked through, drain on rack with paper towels underneath. 

Place cooked wings in baking pan and toss to coat with Texas Pete Buffalo Wing Sauce.

Heat in oven at 400 degrees a few minutes, or until hot. 

Serve immediately with celery sticks and Bleu Cheese dressing.


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